Andy Murray will no longer be British No 1 come next Monday but the good news for the Scot is that he is on track to make his return to competition this summer.
Murray, who has be overtaken by his fellow Briton Kyle Edmund in the updated world rankings list, has been working hard on his fitness following the hip surgery he underwent in the first week of January.
Britain’s Andy Murray is planning to return to the practice court towards the end of March and could be back in action before the grass-court season. The 30-year-old has not played a competitive match since Wimbledon last year. According to a source close to the former world number one, the early stages of his rehabilitation are going well.
The former world No 1 is on target to make his return to competition during this summer’s grass-court season, which starts at the beginning of June, before Wimbledon begins on 2 July. However, in the light of the good progress he has been making, there is a chance that he will return even earlier than that.
Murray has not competed since Wimbledon last summer, having first suffered a problem with his right hip at the French Open in June. By the time he lost to Sam Querrey in the All England Club quarterfinals, Murray was in considerable pain and his attempts to return at last year’s US Open and this year’s Australian Open both ended in failure.
It was after pulling out of his intended comeback tournament in Brisbane in the first week of January and then withdrawing from the Australian Open that he decided to have surgery. While it is possible that Murray would be fit to return at the French Open, which starts at the end of May, it may well be that he will prefer to focus his energies on the grass-court season, particularly as clay has always been his most challenging surface in the past.
Murray’s return could provide a significant boost to the British grass-court season as he is likely to seek some competition in the buildup to Wimbledon. The Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club has been his regular build-up tournament before he heads for Wimbledon, but there will be additional opportunities to play on grass, such as the Challenger grass-court events early in June at Surbiton and Nottingham in the two weeks leading up to Queen’s Club.
In the immediate aftermath of his operation in Melbourne, the three-time Grand Slam champion suggested he might be back on the practice court about now. But as he stressed in January, in a conference call with a group of British journalists from his hospital bed, he does not want to set himself rigid deadlines.
“I’m not going to try to get back as quickly as I can,” said Murray. “And I’m going to take my time to make sure that the rehab is done properly, and make sure that the surgery is as successful as it can be.”
Murray has been in confidential talks with the LTA about staging a new tournament this summer – designed to aid his comeback to the grass-court season. It would be held at Loughborough University’s indoor hard courts.